by Donna Cangelosi
I recently had the opportunity to view Eric Carle’s original collages and book dummies at the ERIC CARLE, ANIMALS AND FRIENDS Exhibit in Montclair, NJ. Standing in awe among a crowd of children, parents, teenagers and senior citizens, I was struck by the brilliant, textured colors that captivated young and old viewers alike. By everyone’s expressions of joy and fascination, it was clear that the artist’s work touched them.
My daughters grew up with Eric Carle books and I’ve spent countless hours reading them, but this time I studied them as a writer. It didn’t take long to see why Carle’s books are nothing short of magical. Sure it’s his beautiful illustrations but there’s something powerful and unique about Carle’s writing as well. He keeps it S.I.M.P.L.E!
S- Sensory experience The artist marries words and images that give the reader a sensory experience.
I-Inviting Carle uses questions and appealing titles (DOES A KANGAROO HAVE A MOTHER TOO?, THE GROUCHY LADYBUG) as well as refrains to captivate and keep the child’s interest.
M- Memorable Like the title of the exhibit I attended, Carle often writes about animals and other child-friendly topics, a combination that makes them memorable and timeless.
P- Page Turns Carle uses clear, straight-forward language and fun teasers to move his stories forward and to keep kids excited about reading on. His stories have natural page turns that make kids eager to see what’s going to happen next.
L- Lyrical Carle’s books have a lyrical quality (BROWN BEAR, BROWN BEAR WHAT DO YOU SEE?) and incorporate a variety of poetic devices. In addition, he writes as if he is talking to children, sometimes even adding a personal note to share the inspiration for his stories.
E- Endearing, Educational & Exciting In each of Eric Carle’s books he celebrates the world of animals, nature, and relationships. His stories are universal and capture the heart of the human spirit.
The takeaway: Eric Carle can teach us a lot about keeping our writing S.I.M.P.L.E! What are your favorite Eric Carle books and why?
Donna Cangelosi and Chana Stiefel are picture book critique partners & friends who are passionate about kids' books & are eager to share tidbits from their writing journey with other aspiring writers.